By adrbr @ 2010-07-23 18:04:43
Fußball-Club Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, commonly known as simply FC Schalke 04 or Schalke is a German football club originally from the Schalke district of Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia. Schalke has long been one of the most popular football teams in Germany, even though major successes have been rare since the club's heyday in the 1930s and early 1940s. The football team is the biggest part of a larger sports club with more than 84,000 members (May 2010) making it the second largest sports club in Germany. Other activities offered by the club include basketball, handball, and track and field. Schalke 04 won its first major European trophy in 1997 by defeating Internazionale on penalty kicks for the UEFA Cup in Milan. Pope John Paul II became an honorary member of the club in 1987 after celebrating a mass in the Parkstadion. Schalke has a rivalry with Borussia Dortmund (see Revierderby) and also has a friendly relationship with Nuremberg. The mascot of the club is called Erwin (also Ährwin.)
In 1924, the football team parted ways with the gymnasts once again – this time taking the club chairman along with them. They took the name FC Schalke 04 and adopted the now familiar blue and white uniforms from which their second nickname would derive – "Die Königsblauen" (English: The Royal Blues). The following year the club became the dominant local side based on a style of play that used short, sharp man-to-man passing to move the ball. This system would later become famous as the "Schalker Kreisel" (English: spinning top). In 1927, it carried them into the top-flight Gauliga Ruhr, onto the league championship, and then into the opening rounds of the national finals.
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